Vodafone will begin offering a high-speed mobile data service based on latest 3G technology to customers in selected markets.
More than three years after acquiring mobile broadband licences around Europe, Vodafone is entering the wireless market with the launch of a dual-mode PC card for 3G and GPRS networks.
Vodafone claimed the data card service for notebook users is the first of its kind in Europe.
The Vodafone Mobile Connect 3G/GPRS data card will, initially, allow users to download data at speeds up to 384Kbps, said Vodafone spokeswoman Emma Conlon. The service will be nearly 10 times faster than GPRS.
Vodafone, which is weighing a $30bn-plus bid for AT&T Wireless Services, will launch the data card service next week in the UK and Germany, and in Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden over the next four weeks.
The company will expand 3G coverage continually to its other markets over the next four years.
Pricing for the Mobile Connect service will vary from country to country and will be based on GPRS tariffs and include a premium fee. To use the service, customers must pay for a data card, monthly subscription and transmission usage.
The German subsidiary of Vodafone said it will offer customers two pricing options: one based on minutes; the other on data volume.
Three different packages for each will be available. The Time XXL package offers users 30 hours of connectivity for €69.60 (£47) per month with every additional 10 minutes costing €1.04. The Volume XXL package, also available for €69,90, includes 150Mbytes, with ach additional megabyte costing €1.04.
A commercial 3G phone service is slated for the second half of this year. The launch will depends to large extent on the availability of quality handsets.
John Blau writes for IDG News Service